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9 Ways To Get Fired From Your Job As School Carnival Leader
School carnivals are one of the most popular ways to raise money for schools in the United States. While the amount of planning and organization that goes into this type of event can be very high, the rewards can also be great. If you find yourself in charge of running your school’s carnival, take a few minutes to read about the things NOT to do if you ever want to take up this position again in the future.
Repeat the Same Games, Activities and Entertainment Year After Year
A surefire way to reduce annual attendance at your school carnival is to find some activities that seem to work and then use them year after year after year. It’s very easy to fall into the mindset that because an activity or event was popular for one or maybe even two years, it will always be that way. However, this is dangerous. People get bored. Also, just because you still have some props from previous carnivals, and it’s cheaper not to have to build new ones, there’s no excuse to stick with the “same-old, same-old”.
The only exception to this rule is something that is considered a local tradition. Perhaps there is a long-established talent contest or chili that is responsible for actually drawing people to the carnival.
However, these types of perennial events should only make up a small fraction of your carnival agenda. Most of the entertainment, activities and events must be continuously updated to continue to attract a large audience every year.
Have Poor Foods
Believe it or not, there are some groups that place very little importance on the selection and presentation of food at school events. From bake sales to sporting events to school carnivals, food matters! You can’t make a lazy effort when choosing what items to sell. You can’t just wrap a Rice Crispy treat in cheap cellophane and walk away thinking you’re going to make money.
If you are in charge of organizing your school carnival, I recommend finding the most creative person on your team and putting him or her in charge of selling food. This person should be responsible for ensuring that there are interesting and unique foods for sale and that the presentation of all items is very attractive. This will boost sales and your income dramatically.
Don’t Talk to Many People When Choosing a Topic for the Year
A school carnival should reflect the tastes and interests of your entire school community at large. If the event is to be successful, it must appeal to a broad cross-section of your parents, students and school staff. For example, I personally can’t stand anything to do with Sponge Bob Square Pants. I forbid my kids to own any Sponge Bob merchandise, and they know that even at friends’ houses they must avoid this horrible, horrible cartoon.
Anyway, that’s just my personal opinion, and if I were to organize a carnival, I should be open to somehow incorporating a Sponge Bob theme if that’s what my community wanted one year. The point is that you should seek a broad cross-section of opinions when determining what theme you choose for a carnival and not rely on your own personal likes and dislikes, just because you’re the boss.
Not Having Many Places for Families to Spend Money
A school carnival is great because it serves so many purposes. Not only is it a wonderful community builder, but it is also an opportunity for a school to generate a lot of revenue. A huge mistake by the planners would be not to create as many places as possible for parents to spend their money. Of course, there are the traditional opportunities, such as entrance tickets and food. However, think about and explore other ways to make the coffers ring. For example, I would recommend using a space to create a small store and stock it with items from the Oriental Trade catalog. Kids love these things.
Also think about holding a contest before the carnival for students to design the official school carnival shirt for the year. The winning design would be featured on the front side of the shirt, while sponsor logos could be sold on the back side. Then these t-shirts could be sold at the event. I would also charge separately for any type of “rides” such as a moonwalk or other wobbly activity.
I would also recommend removing cash from your carnival and instead do everything by ticket or token. This will avoid many headaches for you and families at the event.
Not Researching School Carnival Information Online Before
These days, there are so many online resources for you to research anything before diving into it. Not only are there traditional websites that will sell you carnival-related items and services, but there are also blogs like this one that offer general advice. In addition, there are many places, such as Yahoo Answers, that allow you to post questions and get answers from people in general about a particular question you might have.
The thing is, there is no longer an excuse for not figuring out the best way to run a school carnival. The internet has provided us all with a free and easy way to gain knowledge on an amazing array of subjects. Use this amazing tool to help you in your planning process.
Not Selling Booth Space to Local Non-Profits or Other Family-Focused Organizations
This might fall under the topic of raising as much money as possible at your carnival, but I thought it was important enough to deserve its own title. Since you’ll be attracting a significant crowd of a desirable demographic (families with young children), other groups will be eager to get in on the action.
I think you should dedicate a section of your carnival space to non-profit groups or other family-focused organizations so they can broadcast information about their own services. They should not be allowed to sell anything or ask for donations from the attendees, but they can pass on information about themselves that would lead to future support. In addition, each group should be required to provide, at their booth, some kind of kid-friendly activity – even if it’s something as simple as fishing for a prize or a coloring contest.
Lastly, I would charge these groups for the booth space. All non-profits I’ve ever worked with have an advertising/marketing budget and attending a school carnival could easily fall into that budget category. Of course, make it affordable for them, but even $100 per group could set you back a tidy sum for something that will add to the atmosphere of your event.
Not Embarrassing the School Principal to Raise Money
As a former headmaster, I cringe at what I’m about to write, but it’s true- you should definitely use any way possible to embarrass the head of the school for cash. In a related article, I wrote that you should shave, dip, follow or imprison him or her to collect as much money as possible. Inflicting (imaginary) pain on the headmaster is something that appeals to the child within everyone, including the parents and the staff of the school.
Try selling tickets for a dunk machine, or set up a $1000 dollar bar donated to the PTO and the principal shaved his head, right there at the carnival, you could have a huge hit on your hands.
Not Providing Special Activities and Supervision for Younger Siblings
If you don’t consider that many families have younger siblings (or even elderly grandparents) who could also enjoy the carnival, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. In all your promotional information, you should highlight that you will provide supervised play areas and special activities and events for younger siblings that will be separate and protected from the older children. You should also mention that there will be plenty of seating for grandmas and grandpas to come and enjoy the fun.
By inviting the whole family, you eliminate the need (or obstacle) for families to hire a babysitter and also increase your gate receipts. Some families might very well decide that if they can’t bring their kids, they won’t bother coming at all and then you lose.
Spend a lot of money on promoting the event
Advertising can be very expensive and drastically eat into any kind of profit you hope to make from the carnival. There is no reason for your school to drop a lot of money to get the word out about your event. You can do a great job of promotions and only have to spend a modest amount to make copies of your flyer.
First of all, you should send home information sheets about the carnival months in advance, looking for volunteers for all the necessary tasks. Keep the event in the tip of the parents regularly until the day before. Posters and flyers can also be hung around the school.
In the community, many stores will post your flyers for free. Likewise, churches will often cooperate and write a small disc in their weekly bulletins. I would even write a short public service announcement and send it to your local TV and radio stations. You should assume that your advertising budget is almost zero and work there.
Although organizing your school’s carnival can be daunting, there are many resources available to help you succeed. By putting in a little effort early in the process, you will greatly increase your likelihood of throwing the best carnival your school has ever seen!
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